Document Management Best Practices

As you consider an electronic document management system, remember these best practices....

Managing your documents can be a full-time job, if you let it. By converting to an electronic document management system, you can streamline this process, ensuring that less of your employee’s time is spent on records. As you consider implementing an electronic document management system, remember these document management best practices.

Capturing Data
The foundational point of any electronic document management system is its ability to capture the vital information in a document electronically. Yet because of the many different ways that information enters a business, capture is not always as simple as scanning a document when it comes in. Capture needs to be instant and convenient and needs to place the document in the appropriate area of the business’s records labyrinth. Businesses must examine the way information flows and the type of information they receive, and choose a vendor that has capture options that meet all of those.

Indexing Data
Data that has been captured must then be stored in a secure, yet accessible, way. Companies must choose document management systems that will index and then store the data well. Indexing refers to organizing the data based on searchable criteria, such as the departments that will access it, invoice numbers, customer name, etc.

Companies need to choose systems with a logical, automatic indexing plan. Data may need to be accessible to different departments within the company as well, and the indexing system needs to make this possible. Also, the indexing system, combined with security settings, needs to define who is allowed access to a particular document, and what parts of the document that individual can access.

Managing and Securing Data
Part of the reason that a company will choose to switch to electronic document management is to give them greater flexibility in storing their documents. Still, security cannot be compromised. The best systems are those that have strict rules governing the privacy of the overall system. Also, the program should allow for audits of who has accessed a particular file.

Not only that, but the program needs to be set up so that it complies with industry guidelines. User authentication, inalterable documents and the ability to designate viewers of documents are all crucial to managing documents securely. Finally, security needs to include a disaster recovery model to deal with unexpected and unforeseen circumstances without impacting the business’s ability to function.

Managing Workflow
The right system is one that creates a clear workflow. Look for software that allows a hierarchy for decisions to be put into place. Also, consider the fact that you may need to access transactions or documents that are on the move in order to make a decision. Look for a system that allows this access when an immediate answer is required.

Don’t forget that you will face times when exceptions to the standard business process need to be allowed. Make sure the system is flexible enough to allow these exceptions when necessary, and that it allows you to designate how exceptions will be handled.

Integrating the System
If your business already has technologies in place to help with document management, but you wish to add to this or make a change, consider whether or not those existing technologies may be integrated with the electronic document management program. Integrating your existing systems will help improve your overall efficiency and help control costs.

Managing Records
Documents make the change into archived records when their active lifecycles are complete. Once a document is no longer regularly needed, it is ready to be stored for the long term. Find a program that will account for records management, and specifically that will convert the document into something that cannot be altered when it is converted to “record” form. Don’t forget to look into whether or not the system can permanently destroy information when the time comes.

Making the switch to electronic document management will streamline processes for your business, but it is not always easy to do at the outset. By paying attention to these best practices, you will be in a good position to make this change when you are ready. For further help, talk to FileSolve about your records management needs.

Posted by: Denny Hammack
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